Cross-country: Conant, Mascenic, ConVal face big test at Manchester Invitational

  • Conant, ConVal and Mascenic competed at the Manchester Invitational cross-country race at Derryfield Park on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, ConVal and Mascenic competed at the Manchester Invitational cross-country race at Derryfield Park on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, ConVal and Mascenic competed at the Manchester Invitational cross-country race at Derryfield Park on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, ConVal and Mascenic competed at the Manchester Invitational cross-country race at Derryfield Park on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, ConVal and Mascenic competed at the Manchester Invitational cross-country race at Derryfield Park on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, ConVal and Mascenic competed at the Manchester Invitational cross-country race at Derryfield Park on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, ConVal and Mascenic competed at the Manchester Invitational cross-country race at Derryfield Park on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, ConVal and Mascenic competed at the Manchester Invitational cross-country race at Derryfield Park on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, ConVal and Mascenic competed at the Manchester Invitational cross-country race at Derryfield Park on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, ConVal and Mascenic competed at the Manchester Invitational cross-country race at Derryfield Park on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, ConVal and Mascenic competed at the Manchester Invitational cross-country race at Derryfield Park on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, ConVal and Mascenic competed at the Manchester Invitational cross-country race at Derryfield Park on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, ConVal and Mascenic competed at the Manchester Invitational cross-country race at Derryfield Park on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, ConVal and Mascenic competed at the Manchester Invitational cross-country race at Derryfield Park on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, ConVal and Mascenic competed at the Manchester Invitational cross-country race at Derryfield Park on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, ConVal and Mascenic competed at the Manchester Invitational cross-country race at Derryfield Park on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, ConVal and Mascenic competed at the Manchester Invitational cross-country race at Derryfield Park on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, ConVal and Mascenic competed at the Manchester Invitational cross-country race at Derryfield Park on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, ConVal and Mascenic competed at the Manchester Invitational cross-country race at Derryfield Park on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, ConVal and Mascenic competed at the Manchester Invitational cross-country race at Derryfield Park on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, ConVal and Mascenic competed at the Manchester Invitational cross-country race at Derryfield Park on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, ConVal and Mascenic competed at the Manchester Invitational cross-country race at Derryfield Park on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, ConVal and Mascenic competed at the Manchester Invitational cross-country race at Derryfield Park on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, ConVal and Mascenic competed at the Manchester Invitational cross-country race at Derryfield Park on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, ConVal and Mascenic competed at the Manchester Invitational cross-country race at Derryfield Park on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, ConVal and Mascenic competed at the Manchester Invitational cross-country race at Derryfield Park on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, ConVal and Mascenic competed at the Manchester Invitational cross-country race at Derryfield Park on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, ConVal and Mascenic competed at the Manchester Invitational cross-country race at Derryfield Park on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, ConVal and Mascenic competed at the Manchester Invitational cross-country race at Derryfield Park on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, ConVal and Mascenic competed at the Manchester Invitational cross-country race at Derryfield Park on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, ConVal and Mascenic competed at the Manchester Invitational cross-country race at Derryfield Park on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, ConVal and Mascenic competed at the Manchester Invitational cross-country race at Derryfield Park on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, ConVal and Mascenic competed at the Manchester Invitational cross-country race at Derryfield Park on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, ConVal and Mascenic competed at the Manchester Invitational cross-country race at Derryfield Park on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, ConVal and Mascenic competed at the Manchester Invitational cross-country race at Derryfield Park on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, ConVal and Mascenic competed at the Manchester Invitational cross-country race at Derryfield Park on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, ConVal and Mascenic competed at the Manchester Invitational cross-country race at Derryfield Park on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, ConVal and Mascenic competed at the Manchester Invitational cross-country race at Derryfield Park on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, ConVal and Mascenic competed at the Manchester Invitational cross-country race at Derryfield Park on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, ConVal and Mascenic competed at the Manchester Invitational cross-country race at Derryfield Park on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, ConVal and Mascenic competed at the Manchester Invitational cross-country race at Derryfield Park on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, ConVal and Mascenic competed at the Manchester Invitational cross-country race at Derryfield Park on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, ConVal and Mascenic competed at the Manchester Invitational cross-country race at Derryfield Park on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, ConVal and Mascenic competed at the Manchester Invitational cross-country race at Derryfield Park on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, ConVal and Mascenic competed at the Manchester Invitational cross-country race at Derryfield Park on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, ConVal and Mascenic competed at the Manchester Invitational cross-country race at Derryfield Park on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, ConVal and Mascenic competed at the Manchester Invitational cross-country race at Derryfield Park on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, ConVal and Mascenic competed at the Manchester Invitational cross-country race at Derryfield Park on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, ConVal and Mascenic competed at the Manchester Invitational cross-country race at Derryfield Park on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, ConVal and Mascenic competed at the Manchester Invitational cross-country race at Derryfield Park on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, ConVal and Mascenic competed at the Manchester Invitational cross-country race at Derryfield Park on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, ConVal and Mascenic competed at the Manchester Invitational cross-country race at Derryfield Park on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 9/25/2022 11:17:43 AM
Modified: 9/25/2022 11:16:49 AM

The Manchester Invitational serves as the annual measuring-stick meet, showing cross-country teams with championship aspirations how far they’ve come at the halfway point of the season and how far they’ll need to go if they want to ascend the podium at the end.

Conant, Mascenic and ConVal all put themselves through that test Saturday, with all three entered into the small schools varsity division for schools with under 1,200 students.

The Conant girls’ team came into the year as clear contenders, with senior Kylie Aho leading the way and some combination of Amber Gnoza, Amelia Hill, Bella Nero, Neve Mormando, Lainey Holombo and Amarah Lapinsky ready to group up and make a run at the remaining four scoring positions. On Saturday, the Derryfield Park championship course packed with runners from around New England, the Orioles finished 11th overall, third in Division III behind Hopkinton and Mascenic.

“The first meet this size is always an eye-opener,” Conant coach Bill Edson said. “It’s always a learning moment. I’m not dissatisfied nor surprised.”

Mascenic took sixth overall and second in Division III, with twin freshmen Erin (17th, 20:51) and Kaitlin O’Shea (22nd, 21:04) coming in ahead of Aho (26th, 21:12) and junior Emma Schaumloffel (40th, 21:54) finishing before the rest of the Conant runners.

“That’s a motivator for me,” Edson said. “It’s a matter of motivating the girls. It’s always about the runners – will they realize, and will they stand for that? Credit to Mike [Smith] and Mascenic. They always put it together. So we’ll see how we respond…We’ve got five weeks to figure it out.”

The Vikings’ other scorers were senior Brielle Shippee with a 59th-place PR in 22:46 and junior Gracie German (82nd, 23:26). Conant got the rest of their scoring from sophomore Amber Gnoza (44th, 22:09), freshman Amelia Hill (48th, 22:17), sophomore Bella Nero (52nd, 22:23) and sophomore Neve Mormando (89th, 23:37).

“Again, I don’t think they have anything to be disappointed about,” Edson said, “but it’s a learning moment to see where we are...I see some really positive potential there and now they can see it. These are identifying moments that make teams better.”

Bow senior Susanna Zahn won the race in 18:16.

In the boys’ race, Conant finished about where they’d hoped. With their hybrid squad of soccer players and runners fully intact, the Orioles finished 19th overall, fifth in Division III; a similar finish at the state meet would put them back in the Meet of Champions for the fourth straight season.

“Fifth place or better is the goal this year,” said sophomore Nathan Alajajian. “I think it’s very doable with the way we’re running together. We can push ourselves to do things we didn’t think we could ever do.”

Alajajian has stepped up this fall to become Conant’s top runner, and Saturday was no exception, as he took 42nd overall (18:52) to lead the Orioles. Nursing an achilles injury, Alajajian made up his ground on the Derryfield downhills and blazed a path ahead of Conant’s tightly packed second grouping of junior Austen Richard (93rd, 20:06), sophomore Ben Sawyer (98th, 20:23), senior Jacob Sawyer (99th, 20:24) and junior Jon Ciglar (106th, 20:34).

“We really want to get back to MOCs for the fourth year in a row,” Alajajian said, “and I just want us to have that success. So me going out there and taking on the top guys while they’re in the back for me, it really pushes me.”

Defending champions Mascenic finished fourth overall and second in Division III, as three Trinity runners came in ahead of Viking senior Drew Traffie (22nd, 17:57, 10th in DIII), who was 27 seconds behind last fall’s third-place state championship finishing time.

Repeat champion senior Patrick Gandini of Gilford won the race in 15:58.

The Vikings will need a championship performance from Traffie in October and some improvement from the rest of their scoring runners if they hope to leapfrog Trinity, which had three top-20 runners Saturday. Mascenic’s scorers were senior Ryan O’Shea (34th, 18:26), sophomore Derek Somero (44th, 18:53), sophomore Dylan Buttrick (53rd, 19:10) and freshman Dylan Callahan (63rd, 19:28).

ConVal’s small-but-mighty Cougars

When you don’t have enough runners to qualify for a team championship, it’s all about the little wins, ConVal head coach Spencer Fetrow said Saturday, after his Cougars competed in several JV races and entered just five total runners in the varsity competition. Fresh off a successful race at John Stark Wednesday, ConVal was a bit sore and a bit undermanned, but still put in a solid effort, led by sophomore William Simard, who had a breakout performance to finish 13th in 17:32.

“He’s fast,” Fetrow said. “He’s shown this at practice, but he hasn’t shown it in any meet yet, so it’s great to see it in a really big meet.”

Simard said he picked up speed on the course’s biggest downhill portion; that, plus the increased talent level of the competion, helped push him to new heights.

“Birhanu [Harriman] from Lebanon and [Patrick] Gandini who won last year – yeah, it gets you a little amped up,” Simard said. “You’re like ‘Okay, I’m racing against these kids. It’s the caliber that I’m going to race against, so I might as well show up and try to do my best.”

Behind Simard, ConVal’s finishers were senior Nathaniel Mao (135th, 20:53) and junior Jake Alonso (174th, 22:26).

The Cougars took to the course in matching socks featuring orange-juice drinking sloths, the result of a team trip to target, one of ConVal’s many team bonding experiences led by senior captain Makenna Proctor.

“Makenna just knows how to lead,” Fetrow said. “She’s not worried about where she places on the team. She’s worried about getting all of the runners happy and hanging out together...They are just the happiest bunch of runners, and she’s it for seniors. We’ve got one senior and she’s holding it down, getting all those freshmen really tight and cohesive. So she’s really doing her part to leave a strong legacy behind for sure.”

Proctor’s been through knee injuries and a season nearly entirely lost to COVID during her four years at ConVal, and she’s never let it break her spirit; now, she’s the senior leader of a tight-knit team.

“It's all about the family that we have and the love that our team shares together,” Proctor said. “Running is so much about mindset, and running because you love it is so different than running because you need to win. So having our team run because we want to run together as a team and like be positive and finish because you're like ‘I love it!’ – that is what's motivating me.”

Proctor finished 145th in the girls’ race in 25:42, with junior Elizabeth Petrov behind her in 156th (26:39).


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